Quartz Hill School of Theology

B701 2 Corinthians

ASSIGNMENT: Read 2 Corinthians in your Bible and read the Commentary on 2 Corinthians that you have chosen. Then begin reading the text and textual comments provided by the Professor below.


The Second letter to the Corinthians is the most personal of all Paul's extant letters. Yet here we have no simple letter; here we have a letter which is intentionally apostolic. That is, as Paul writes this letter he writes it as an apostle in defense of the apostolic office; and in particular, his apostolic office.

When modern people read this letter they must keep in mind its purpose, which was to explain and defend the calling of the preacher (or, more specifically, the apostle). Why are there preachers? What is their purpose? What are they to do? How are they to do it? How can you tell if one is telling you the truth? These are the questions Paul addresses here.

The situation which led up to the composition of this letter can be summed up as follows: Paul visited Corinth and established the Church there. He wrote 1 Corinthians somewhat after he left to continue his work. He then visited Corinth again and was treated very badly by some of the Christians there. In some way or another someone called into question his apostolic authority and his call as a preacher. In response to this insult Paul wrote 2 Corinthians (over a period of some months). While the letter was being composed Paul received word that the Corinthians had changed their minds about him (cf. 2 Co 7:6ff). Yet later Paul received another report from them that again called his work into question. It is at this point that Paul writes the very strong (one might even say harsh) chapters 10-13.

Thus, the letter can be seen as written in 3 stages: Ch 1:1 - 7:5 is the first stage and was written when Paul was told that the Corinthians did not believe him to be an apostle. Ch 7:6 - 9:15 were written when Paul received word that the Church had changed its mind and were again in fellowship with him. Finally, Ch 10 -13 were written when Paul again learned that trouble makers in the Church were again calling his work into question.

The notes which follow are based on the Greek text of the epistle and the student is presumed to have a very good knowledge of Greek. The comments will follow immediately on the text which is addressed. As a final note, the astute reader will easily see my dependence on the excellent commentary by Rudolf Bultmann.

2 Corinthians 1

Chapter One

1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ, The apostle immediately addresses the issue of his apostolic authority. He reminds them that his office was given him by God. If they knew God, they would know this.

καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς, Timothy is the co-writer of the letter, as he was also the co-author of 1 Thessalonians. Whether or not this means that Timothy was the amanuensis remains an open question. It is likely that he was.

τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ, The Church is the eschatological community of God which exists at Corinth. But this letter is not addressed only to Corinth, but to the Church at large, as the next line clearly shows:

σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαίᾳ·. Achaia was the territory of Greece in which Corinth was located. This letter is addressed to every church in that territory.

2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Grace is the typical Greek greeting found in letters while peace is the Hebrew greeting. Paul thus greets both the Jewish and the Gentile believers in the community.

3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως, This verse is written in liturgical style. That is, this is the kind of thing which the worship leader would have said at the beginning of the service in the Corinthian churches. The genitive κυρίου is attached to both father and God . There are several characterizations of God using the genitive case found in the Pauline epistles: the God of love and hope; the God of patience and of comfort; the God of hope; the God of peace; and the God of all grace.

πάσης also belongs to the liturgical style. This style raises the personal to the universal and the profane to the realm of the sacred. Thus thanks for Paul's deliverance (v.10) becomes a praise of God and with that a thanks for the community which benefits from Pauls rescue. In other words, Paul and the community are permanently linked together -- whether they like it or not. Finally, we must note that this verse means that all comfort and mercy have their source in God. Those who wish to be merciful or comforting must draw these strengths from God, for He alone possesses them.

4 ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς This participle describes the fact that it is always God who brings comfort to us (for, after all, the participle is durative).

ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν, εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ἡμᾶς παρακαλεῖν τοὺς ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως ἧς παρακαλούμεθα αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. But the purpose of our being comforted is not that we should simply absorb it; rather we should pass it on to others. We have been rescued from a very specific θλίψις, and not merely some vague affliction. This means that our experience of comfort furnishes us with the tools with which we can comfort others. One final note on this topic: when we surrender to God we know we are nothing before Him and we thereby become totally dependent on Him. Then, and only then, will we be able to receive His comfort and pass it along to others.

5 ὅτι This is an explicative ὅτι which explains verse 4 completely.

καθὼς περισσεύει τὰ παθήματα τοῦ χριστοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς, οὕτως διὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ περισσεύει καὶ ἡ παράκλησις ἡμῶν. For believers, Christ s suffering and death are not simply facts from the past but a present reality which empowers their lives. Nothing happens to us which has not happened to Him. When we realize our fellowship with him we recognize ourselves to be new creatures in Christ.

6 εἴτε δὲ θλιβόμεθα, ὑπὲρ This ὑπὲρ means in the interest of or for.

τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως This is an objective genitive.

καὶ σωτηρίας· εἴτε παρακαλούμεθα, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν παρακλήσεως τῆς ἐνεργουμένης ἐν ὑπομονῇ τῶν αὐτῶν παθημάτων ὧν καὶ ἡμεῖς πάσχομεν, Paul speaks simply as one who was comforted by the grace of God which is known in Christ.

7 καὶ ἡ ἐλπὶς ἡμῶν βεβαία ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· εἰδότες ὅτι ὡς κοινωνοί ἐστε τῶν παθημάτων, οὕτως καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως. Paul's comfort means that he allows himself to be united with the Corinthians. This means that he takes the fellowship seriously. Comfort then means not the taking of suffering away but the recognition that Christian suffering is fellowship with Christ. The result of this suffering is patience. And such patience works itself out in community.

8 Οὐ γὰρ θέλομεν ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς θλίψεως ἡμῶν τῆς γενομένης ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ, ὅτι καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν ὑπὲρ δύναμιν ἐβαρήθημεν, ὥστε ἐξαπορηθῆναι ἡμᾶς καὶ τοῦ ζῇν· Paul does not envision deliverance from death. Rather, as the following verse demonstrates, death has meaning for the believer.

9 ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν, ἐσχήκαμεν: This verb is hardly a genuine perfect; rather it functions as an Aorist. The verb means we have accepted the death sentence and not we have received the death sentence .

ἵνα μὴ πεποιθότες ὦμεν ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῖς ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τῷ θεῷ τῷ ἐγείροντι τοὺς νεκρούς· This segment of the verse explains the voluntary renunciation of life which Paul has described. The ἵνα is final and not consecutive. The death sentence Paul passed over himself means simply that he has surrendered himself completely to God.

10 ὃς ἐκ τηλικούτου θανάτου ἐρύσατο ἡμᾶς καὶ ῥύσεται, The one who has utterly surrendered to God receives deliverance as God's gift.

εἰς ὃν ἠλπίκαμεν [ὅτι] καὶ ἔτι ῥύσεται, This seems to be a textual doublet.

11 συνυπουργούντων καὶ ὑμῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τῇ δεήσει, This is an indirect summons to prayer. Prayer is an act of community; Paul thus urges them to have some sense of community with him.

ἵνα ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων τὸ εἰς ἡμᾶς χάρισμα διὰ πολλῶν εὐχαριστηθῇ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. A prayer of thanksgiving should be the goal of their intercessions for him. πολλῶν here is an objective genitive, and thus and not ex multorum personis as the Vulgate has it. If the prayer of one for the many is heard in such a way, then how much more the prayer of the many for the one (Sifre Deuteronomy).

12 Ἡ γὰρ καύχησις ἡμῶν αὕτη ἐστίν, And now, all of a sudden, Paul is boasting! But how can one boast of humility without thereby abandoning humility? Paul is here directing his attention to those in Corinth who accuse him of boasting. Paul is here defending himself.

τὸ μαρτύριον τῆς συνειδήσεως ἡμῶν, Paul's boast is that his conscience is clear. Can they say the same? In short, Paul is here refuting the notion that he is an egomaniac. Rather, his conscience is clear in the matter for he knows that he boasts only in what God does and not in what he himself does.

ὅτι ἐν ἁγιότητι καὶ εἰλικρινίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, These two nouns form a hendiadys and both denote purity. Paul is pure according to God's requirement.

[καὶ] οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ σαρκικῇ This phrase describes those who are egotistical manipulators. They are cunning, and calculating; and Paul is not one of these! Paul's integrity is honest and selfless.

ἀλλ’ ἐν χάριτι θεοῦ, Instead of being a cunning manipulator Paul is a person who depends on and lives by the grace of God. In short, he understands his integrity as the gift of God.

ἀνεστράφημεν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, περισσοτέρως δὲ πρὸς ὑμᾶς· Certainly you must be aware of this Paul says to the Corinthians! The term περισσοτέρως must be taken cum grano salis, for of course Paul has not behaved less genuinely anywhere else. At Corinth Paul was not more honest, but more cautious. Paul boasts in what God has done for him. If God is acting through and for Paul then they must admit that Paul is indeed invested with apostolic authority. Paul boasts, to be sure (as they accuse him); but his boast is not in his own accomplishments (as they accuse him) but in the grace of God.

13 οὐ γὰρ ἄλλα γράφομεν ὑμῖν ἀλλ’ ἢ ἃ ἀναγινώσκετε ἢ καὶ ἐπιγινώσκετε, ἐλπίζω δὲ ὅτι ἕως τέλους ἐπιγνώσεσθε, This means that they simply do not understand Paul. Is it because they do not wish to do so?

14 καθὼς καὶ ἐπέγνωτε ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ μέρους, The basis of his hope is that they will come to understand him both partially and fully. That is, though now they only partially understand him his prayer is that they will soon understand him completely. He is, after all, their apostle.

ὅτι καύχημα ὑμῶν ἐσμὲν καθάπερ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ.

15 Καὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πεποιθήσει ἐβουλόμην πρότερον First is here linked to to you and not to come.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν, ἵνα δευτέραν χαρὰν σχῆτε, -- χαρὰν denotes pleasure or friendliness. Paul's wish was to come to them and be of benefit to them as a friend; but they have put him in the position of having to plan to come to them as an authority. This plan was, however, not carried out.

16 καὶ δι’ ὑμῶν διελθεῖν εἰς Μακεδονίαν, καὶ πάλιν ἀπὸ Μακεδονίας ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ὑφ’ ὑμῶν προπεμφθῆναι εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν. Paul was on his way to Judea with the offering he had collected for the suffering Christians there and wished to stop by Corinth on his way. Again, this plan was not carried out.

17 τοῦτο οὖν βουλόμενος μήτι ἄρα τῇ ἐλαφρίᾳ ἐχρησάμην; ἢ ἃ βουλεύομαι κατὰ σάρκα βουλεύομαι, Paul maintains two rhetorical questions in self-defense. He has been carelessly accused and assures them that the only people who can make such an accusation are those who do not possess the Spirit of Christ.

ἵνα ᾖ παρ’ ἐμοὶ τό Ναί ναὶ καὶ τό Οὔ οὔ; The ἵνα is epexegetical (or explanatory). Paul means that when he says yes, he means yes and when he says no he means it. He is not unreliable as some have accused him of being; rather he is a man of his word.

18 πιστὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ὁ λόγος ἡμῶν ὁ πρὸς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἔστιν Ναί καὶ Οὔ. The clause here is an oath formula! In verses 17-18 Paul is repulsing the idea that he is unreliable.

19 ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ γὰρ υἱὸς Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν δι’ ἡμῶν κηρυχθείς, δι’ ἐμοῦ καὶ Σιλουανοῦ καὶ Τιμοθέου, οὐκ ἐγένετο Ναί καὶ Οὔ, ἀλλὰ Ναί ἐν αὐτῷ γέγονεν· Paul, in his varied use of the verb to be , here denotes both the mission of Jesus and his presence today. Jesus has always been reliable; and so has Paul. This is the purpose of this implied comparison. By referring to Timothy and Silas, Paul is reminding them that the Gospel he preached to them is the authentic, apostolic Gospel and nothing less. They heard it from Timothy and Silas as well; so if they accuse Paul of falsehood they must also accuse these two men.

20 ὅσαι γὰρ ἐπαγγελίαι θεοῦ, ἐν αὐτῷ τό Ναί· διὸ καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ τό Ἀμήν τῷ θεῷ πρὸς δόξαν δι’ ἡμῶν. The δι’ αὐτοῦ describes Christ as the mediator of prayer; that is, he is the access to God for those who would pray.

21 ὁ δὲ βεβαιῶν ἡμᾶς σὺν ὑμῖν εἰς Χριστὸν καὶ χρίσας ἡμᾶς θεός,

22 [ὁ] καὶ σφραγισάμενος ἡμᾶς καὶ δοὺς τὸν ἀρραβῶνα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν. This is not a legal description. The intention here is not forensic, but is intended to encourage them to remember the Spirit who abides in the Church's heart. To be sealed means to be in the owner's possession. This harks back to their baptism and their inclusion in the community of faith.

23 Ἐγὼ δὲ μάρτυρα τὸν θεὸν ἐπικαλοῦμαι ἐπὶ τὴν ἐμὴν ψυχήν, The clause is here a formula of protestation.

ὅτι φειδόμενος ὑμῶν οὐκέτι ἦλθον εἰς Κόρινθον. His method and motive has always been on the level. How can they accuse him of hypocrisy?

24 οὐχ ὅτι κυριεύομεν ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως. ἀλλὰ συνεργοί ἐσμεν τῆς χαρᾶς ὑμῶν, τῇ γὰρ πίστει ἑστήκατε. In spite of the accusations leveled at him, he will deny to his death that he is power hungry.

Chapter Two

1 ἔκρινα γὰρ ἐμαυτῷ τοῦτο, τὸ μὴ πάλιν ἐν λύπῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν· The ἐν is the equivalent of the Hebrew preposition ב which means with and thus here means to bring with.

2 εἰ γὰρ ἐγὼ λυπῶ ὑμᾶς, καὶ τίς This καὶ τίς means who then. ὁ εὐφραίνων με εἰ μὴ ὁ λυπούμενος ἐξ ἐμοῦ; The Corinthian Church is Paul's source of joy. How can it be possible that he wishes them pain? They are wrong in this assumption.

3 καὶ ἔγραψα τοῦτο αὐτὸ ἵνα μὴ ἐλθὼν λύπην σχῶ ἀφ’ ὧν ἔδει με χαίρειν, πεποιθὼς ἐπὶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἡ ἐμὴ χαρὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ἐστίν. The aorist tense of the first verb is an epistolary aorist and refers to the letter he is presently composing. He says what he says here because his object is to communicate joy to them.

4 ἐκ γὰρ πολλῆς θλίψεως καὶ συνοχῆς καρδίας ἔγραψα ὑμῖν Paul has already had enough grief and wants to have it no more.

διὰ πολλῶν δακρύων, διὰ is a preposition of manner.

οὐχ ἵνα λυπηθῆτε, Paul desired a grief resulting in repentence and not a grief for its own sake.

ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀγάπην ἵνα γνῶτε ἣν ἔχω περισσοτέρως εἰς ὑμᾶς. He is obliged to be their apostle and not their judge. The letter, then, is written in love and not from temper or a desire to have revenge. If he were not willing to forgive, he would be opening a door to Satan (cf. v.11).

5 Εἰ δέ τις λελύπηκεν, A person in the Church had offended Paul. Is it possible to offend preachers? The answer is a resounding yes! And as preachers are human they will respond to it as any human would. What troubled Paul about this insult was that the community did not unequivocally take his side in the dispute! This leads to all manner of inner doubts and conflicts on the part of the preacher, as it did in Paul.

οὐκ ἐμὲ λελύπηκεν, ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ μέρους, ἵνα μὴ ἐπιβαρῶ, πάντας ὑμᾶς. the whole community which was inconsiderate. ἐπιβαρῶ means something like to exaggerate.

6 ἱκανὸν τῷ τοιούτῳ ἡ ἐπιτιμία αὕτη ἡ ὑπὸ τῶν πλειόνων, The majority of the community did, in fact, eventually take Paul's side and meted out a reprimand to the offending party. Nevertheless a minority of the Church still persisted in opposition to Paul.

7 ὥστε τοὐναντίον ὑμᾶς χαρίσασθαι καὶ παρακαλέσαι, μή πως τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ καταποθῇ ὁ τοιοῦτος. But, Paul says, the punishment you have decided upon is sufficient. You need not punish further for my sake.

8 διὸ παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς κυρῶσαι εἰς αὐτὸν ἀγάπην· κυρῶσαι is a technical term which means to confirm; or to conclude.

9 εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ ἔγραψα ἵνα γνῶ τὴν δοκιμὴν ὑμῶν, Paul is capable of demanding obedience, as their apostle.

εἰ εἰς πάντα ὑπήκοοί ἐστε.

10 ᾧ δέ τι χαρίζεσθε, κἀγώ· The community need not think it must do more to the offending party.

καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ὃ κεχάρισμαι, εἴ τι κεχάρισμαι, δι’ ὑμᾶς ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ, For Paul the question is one of principle. He forgave because of them and not for himself.

11 ἵνα μὴ πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, If one acts from personal motives, Satan is given the upper hand. One must always act out of love and in this way Satan is always defeated.

οὐ γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὰ νοήματα ἀγνοοῦμεν. We are not unaware of Satan's schemes; they are quite transparent.

12 Ἐλθὼν δὲ εἰς τὴν Τρῳάδα Troas was the port city of Alexandria-Troas.

εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ χριστοῦ Objective genitive.

καὶ θύρας μοι ἀνεῳγμένης ἐν κυρίῳ, An open door is an open opportunity. See the Rabbinic parallels in Strack-Billerbeck, loc cit.

13 οὐκ ἔσχηκα ἄνεσιν τῷ πνεύματί μου The verb is perfect instead of aorist. τῷ μὴ εὑρεῖν με Τίτον τὸν ἀδελφόν μου, The dative of the infinitive without the preposition occurs only here in the New Testament.

ἀλλὰ ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς ἐξῆλθον εἰς Μακεδονίαν. Paul was so anxious about the situation that he simply abandoned the activity he was engaged in in Troas.

14 Τῷ δὲ θεῷ χάρις A liturgical formula.

τῷ πάντοτε θριαμβεύοντι ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ χριστῷ God allows Paul to work as his apostle. No greater honor can be imagined than that of being included in the work of God. θριαμβεύοντι means to lead in triumphal procession or to expose someone to scorn or shame .

καὶ τὴν ὀσμὴν τῆς γνώσεως αὐτοῦ φανεροῦντι δι’ ἡμῶν ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ· The preaching in which Paul was engaged was God s act in Christ. This was his one, constant, theme.

15 ὅτι Χριστοῦ εὐωδία ἐσμὲν τῷ θεῷ The word of God is not a timeless truth but a living reality which confronts the hearer with a concrete call to decision. Paul thus is charged to confront his hearers with God's claim on their lives.

ἐν τοῖς σωζομένοις καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, The proclamation has a dual effect, as described here.

16 οἷς μὲν ὀσμὴ ἐκ θανάτου εἰς θάνατον, οἷς δὲ ὀσμὴ ἐκ ζωῆς εἰς ζωήν. καὶ πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός; Who can be the bearer of such a word? is the question Paul asks in all humility. The answer is given in the next verse.

17 οὐ γάρ ἐσμεν ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἐξ εἰλικρινίας, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἐκ θεοῦ κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν. καπηλεύοντες means to be a small dealer; a hawker of spiritual goods. Paul refuses to falsify the gospel in order to make capital of it. Paul is not a charlatan, in spite of the claims of his opponents.

Chapter Three

1 Ἀρχόμεθα πάλιν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνειν; This clause indicates that Paul was well accustomed to such treatment; that is, he was used to hearing reproaches from some of them.

ἢ μὴ χρῄζομεν ὥς τινες συστατικῶν ἐπιστολῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἢ ἐξ ὑμῶν; He has no need of letters from them, as his opponents do! He can recommend himself.

2 ἡ ἐπιστολὴ ἡμῶν ὑμεῖς ἐστέ, ἐνγεγραμμένη ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν, γινωσκομένη καὶ ἀναγινωσκομένη ὑπὸ πάντων ἀνθρώπων· You are my letter of recommendation to all men says Paul to the church.

3 φανερούμενοι ὅτι ἐστὲ ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ διακονηθεῖσα ὑφ’ ἡμῶν, On the notion of letters written by God to a human cf. Eze 2:9ff, Rev 2-3, Herm visio II,1-2, and Odes of Solomon 23.

ἐνγεγραμμένη οὐ μέλανι ἀλλὰ πνεύματι θεοῦ ζῶντος, The wonderful power of God is contrasted with the letters of his opponents which are written with ink and papyrus.

οὐκ ἐν πλαξὶν λιθίναις ἀλλ’ ἐν πλαξὶν καρδίαις σαρκίναις. Paul also contrasts his letter of recommendation with the Old Testament law. His Gospel is internal and not a set of external rules. When one is apprehended by that Gospel one is motivated from within to live for God and not from an external rule.

4 Πεποίθησιν His boldness is towards God, in reference to God, and not in God . δὲ τοιαύτην ἔχομεν διὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.

5 οὐχ ὅτι ἀφ’ ἑαυτῶν ἱκανοί ἐσμεν λογίσασθαί τι ὡς ἐξ αὑτῶν, ἀλλ’ ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, Paul here declares his independence! He does not need them to be an apostle -- but they need him to be their apostle. Human weakness and divine power are contrasted here.

6 ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος, The genitive here is a genitive of quality. The contrast between letter and spirit demonstrates that the Spirit is the power of God while the letter is what one attempts to do on his own strength.

τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτείνει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζωοποιεῖ. This expresses Paul's idea that living in one's own power leads to death while following God's spirit leads to life.

7 Εἰ δὲ ἡ διακονία τοῦ θανάτου ἐν γράμμασιν ἐντετυπωμένη λίθοις ἐγενήθη ἐν δόξῃ, ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι ἀτενίσαι τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰσραὴλ εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον Μωυσέως διὰ τὴν δόξαν τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ τὴν καταργουμένην, This sentence is designed to describe the wonder and majesty of God's glory. This glory is particularly made manifest in the new covenant. According to Jewish tradition, the Jews could not look at Moses because they had sinned with the golden calf.

8 πῶς οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἡ διακονία τοῦ πνεύματος ἔσται ἐν δόξῃ; is the future of logical inference. When Paul speaks of the glory of the new covenant he has in mind the wondrous blessings of salvation.

9 εἰ γὰρ ἡ διακονία τῆς κατακρίσεως δόξα, πολλῷ μᾶλλον περισσεύει ἡ διακονία τῆς δικαιοσύνης δόξῃ. Righteousness is not the result of the verdict of God -- it is the verdict itself; the verdict of not guilty .

10 καὶ γὰρ οὐ δεδόξασται τὸ δεδοξασμένον ἐν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει εἵνεκεν τῆς ὑπερβαλλούσης δόξης· The old covenant had a glory unique to itself; the new covenant likewise has a glory unique to itself. Yet the glory of the old is nothing in face of the glory of the new. Does this suggest that Paul believes that the Jews may live in the old covenant and still have a relationship to God; but that they should realize the glory of the new is greater and thereby be induced to adopt it?

11 εἰ γὰρ τὸ καταργούμενον διὰ δόξης, πολλῷ μᾶλλον τὸ μένον ἐν δόξῃ. The manner of here described.

According to Windisch, the following section (3:7-18) is a Midrash on Exodus 34:29-35. This is most likely correct; and the text is made much clearer if this is kept in view.

12 Ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύτην ἐλπίδα πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα, This is not some magical event- rather it is the act of God on behalf of the believer. Boldness was originally a political concept, denoting the right to say anything, the title to express an idea in public, a right which the slave does not possess. This boldness is expressed in prayer.

13 καὶ οὐ καθάπερ Μωυσῆς ἐτίθει κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ, πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰσραὴλ εἰς τὸ τέλος τοῦ καταργουμένου. The old covenant is described as a veiling in contrast to the boldness evidenced by the new covenant. 8

14 ἀλλὰ ἐπωρώθη τὰ νοήματα αὐτῶν. ἄχρι γὰρ τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας τὸ αὐτὸ κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τῇ ἀναγνώσει τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης μένει μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον, ὅτι ἐν Χριστῷ καταργεῖται, The phrase mh anakaluptomenon is a subjunctive participle which means it remains without being lifted . The ὅτι is causal. The veiling veils that which is passing away. Its end is near! Paul's interpretation of the Old Testament is, from a historical-critical perspective, quite inappropriate. The texts he quotes are taken out of context and made to apply to Paul's new way of thinking. Paul is, in short, practicing reader-oriented criticism.

15 ἀλλ’ ἕως σήμερον ἡνίκα ἂν ἀναγινώσκηται Μωυσῆς κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτῶν κεῖται· The veil does not really lie over the object -- it lies over the subject!

16 ἡνίκα δὲ ἐὰν ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς Κύριον, περιαιρεῖται τὸ κάλυμμα. Paul sees in Moses activities in Exodus 34 the pre-cognition of a new covenant which will be described in verse 18.

17 ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν· οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα Κυρίου, ἐλευθερία Turning to the Lord means turning to the spirit, and by implication, away from the letter. Thus the Christian proclamation of the Lord is in the strictest manner the work of the spirit or the work which the spirit does.

18 ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ προσώπῳ τὴν δόξαν Κυρίου κατοπτριζόμενοι τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν, καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος. A Christian self awareness is expressed here. The Christian is called upon to examine him or herself; in this way libertinism in the guise of spirtuality can and will be avoided. We are changed into that which we behold! And this transformation takes place in stages without cessation.

Chapter Four

1 Διὰ τοῦτο, This clause connects what follows with what comes before, in 3:7-18.

ἔχοντες τὴν διακονίαν ταύτην καθὼς ἠλεήθημεν, ἠλεήθημεν means pity or mercy .

οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν, we do not despair, we do not draw in our horns, or we are not cowardly.

2 ἀλλὰ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, If αἰσχύνης means shame, but the genitive is explanatory, then the meaning is the secrets of being ashamed, that is, a shame which must be hidden.

μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, If Paul defends himself here by repudiating mean motives, then of course he does so only on the basis of the description of his apostolate as a ministry of the new covenant which excludes all insincere motives.

ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας συνιστάνοντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. The teaching of right doctrine proves his attitude. For, after all, truth is aprehended by the conscience rather than by reflection.

3 εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔστιν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν, Our Gospel is contrasted with the gospel of Christ because the apostle's preaching is at issue here -- the Gospel of Christ as Paul proclaims it.

ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις ἐστὶν κεκαλυμμένον, They will not surrender their own security and thus they remove themselves from both reality and the Lord!

4 ἐν οἷς ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων This is not an example of determinism, but a statement designed to make clear the seriousness of their decision. What is at stake is either God or Satan! There is no third possibility.

εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ. The world is evil. People experience its evil every day. They lose grasp of themselves and fall prey to the seduction of the world. Those who are being destroyed and those who do not believe are one and the same.

5 οὐ γὰρ ἑαυτοὺς κηρύσσομεν ἀλλὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν κύριον, ἑαυτοὺς δὲ δούλους ὑμῶν διὰ Ἰησοῦν. This is the summary of Paul's preaching. How can they deny its truth and his apostolic call? He is their servant in delivering this message. How can they be so ungrateful?

6 ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ὁ εἰπών Ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψει, ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ. Paul spreads the word of God, the truth, and the knowledge made possible by it. God has sent light into our hearts to guide us on our way; so that God is known and glorified. This verse serves as the basis for what was said in verse 5.

7 Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, This denotes the frail, fragile, mortal person. The weak, transitory body. The Daughter of the Emperor Hadrian said to Rabbi Jehoshua ben Hananiah -- that is, in reference to his scholarship -- Ah, such lordly wisdom in such an ugly vessel!

ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν· The misconception that faith depends on the brilliant, fascinating shape of the preacher must be guarded against. Preaching is effective ex opera operato.

8 ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοι ἀλλ’ οὐ στενοχωρούμενοι, ἀπορούμενοι ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι, This naturally belongs to the antitheses in the following verse. The temporal aspect receives the majority of force.

9 διωκόμενοι ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι, καταβαλλόμενοι ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀπολλύμενοι, The outer man is the person drawn in faith toward the future, not given with spiritual states or with disposition, but only believed occurences.

10 πάντοτε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι περιφέροντες, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν φανερωθῇ· This is actual death, and not to mere mortal danger. The Christian's suffering is that continual process in which the death of Jesus is at work in the Christian as a continual killing off or continual dying away, such as the handed over into death in verse 11.

11 ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες εἰς θάνατον παραδιδόμεθα διὰ Ἰησοῦν, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ φανερωθῇ ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκὶ ἡμῶν. We have life in the body; and we face in the present the present working of death. We die while we live.

12 ὥστε ὁ θάνατος ἐν ἡμῖν ἐνεργεῖται, ἡ δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμῖν. This is a seriously drawn conclusion drawn from verse 10-11, and is not mere rhetorical flourish. While the death of Jesus is operative in Paul, the life of Jesus is operative in them.

13 ἔχοντες δὲ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πίστεως, κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον Ἐπίστευσα, διὸ ἐλάλησα, καὶ ἡμεῖς πιστεύομεν, διὸ καὶ λαλοῦμεν, We have the very same faith which empowers the scriptural word. Paul exists for others. He exists in a bold freedom from anxiety.

14 εἰδότες ὅτι ὁ ἐγείρας τὸν [κύριον] Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἡμᾶς σὺν Ἰησοῦ ἐγερεῖ καὶ παραστήσει σὺν ὑμῖν. This verse contains the essence of the faith. Jesus' resurrection provides the basis for our own and the faith which Paul proclaims declares that we will one day be assembled in the presence of God. Thus faith is a present life open towards the future.

15 τὰ γὰρ πάντα δι’ ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἡ χάρις πλεονάσασα διὰ τῶν πλειόνων τὴν εὐχαριστίαν περισσεύσῃ εἰς τὴν δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ. Paul's ultimate motive is thus the Glory of God for whose sake he labors for the community.

16 Διὸ οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν, ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ ὁ ἔξω ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος διαφθείρεται, ἀλλ’ ὁ ἔσω ἡμῶν ἀνακαινοῦται ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ. The inner man denotes the authentic person and the contrast derives from the knowledge that man, as he is first of all present to himself and others, is not the authentic man. The outer man is the being subject to death; it is a person seen within the sphere of the flesh and as that which is present in the world. The mode of existence of the inner man is described as a being on the way between a no longer and a not yet. Faith makes one open to the future and lives from out of the future by seizing it anew in the given moment.

17 τὸ γὰρ παραυτίκα ἐλαφρὸν τῆς θλίψεως καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν εἰς ὑπερβολὴν αἰώνιον βάρος δόξης κατεργάζεται ἡμῖν, Despondency is quite out of place for the Christian because the misery of the present is nothing in face of the glory to come. This glory is superabundant!

18 μὴ σκοπούντων ἡμῶν τὰ βλεπόμενα ἀλλὰ τὰ μὴ βλεπόμενα, This phrase is a genitive absolute.

τὰ γὰρ βλεπόμενα πρόσκαιρα, τὰ δὲ μὴ βλεπόμενα αἰώνια. The life of the Christian is not based on sight, but on faith; for the things of faith last and the things of sight pass away.

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